Never Cook Oatmeal Again!

Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfasts (I say “breakfast,” but typically don’t eat anything until about brunch/lunch time), but I often find that the moment I realize I want it, I don’t have any pre-prepared.  I then have to cook it right then and there and it is scalding hot afterward for what seems like an hour.  I don’t want to wait that long when I’m hungry.  🙂

I’ve recently gotten into the overnight oats trend.  There are a number of vegan bloggers that I’ve seen prepare oatmeal this way, which involves no cooking whatsoever.  The oats are soaked overnight and ready to eat the next morning!  In addition, if you’re trying to eat more raw plants—which are higher in nutrients and lower in calories—this take on classic comfort breakfasts is for you.

Now, if when you take your oats out of the fridge the next morning you don’t want to eat them cold, you’ll need to dish some up and leave them on the counter to get to room temp for a bit or pop them in the microwave.  Inevitably, they will cook a little if you opt for warmer oats, but you can control the heat level and cooking time of the microwave to minimize the loss of nutrients.  I have read in several places recently that microwaving food is the cooking method that removes the least amount of nutrients from food that enters in a raw state.  I’m still skeptical, but the research is certainly interesting…

Anywho, if you’ve played around with my traditional oatmeal formula, you’ll find that really the only difference is that you’re soaking the oats overnight rather than simmering them on the stovetop.  In addition, you can do this with steel cut oats, but you’d need a lot more liquid and probably time, too, so I stick with rolled.

This is a delicious, nutritious, and filling breakfast for you as well as a great ready-to-go breakfast for littles before school in the morning.  🙂  Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE:  OATMEAL

Serves 6-8

  • 4 cups uncooked rolled oats
  • ½ cup specialty ingredients + extra for garnishing (finely chopped raw fruit, dried fruit, raw nuts, raw seeds, etc.) –> I’m using ¼ cup each hemp and ground flax seeds.
  • 1/8-1/4 cup sweetener –>  I’m using just over 1/8 cup pure maple syrup.
  • ½-1 tsp extract (amount will depend on flavor intensity) –>  I’m using 1 tsp vanilla.
  • 1 tsp spices –>  I’m using 1 tsp ground cinnamon.
  • Liquid of choice for soaking (water or unsweetened plant milk) –>  I’m using unsweetened Ripple milk.*

*I’m typically a die hard almond milk fan, but I am trying to minimize nut exposure for my one-year-old for a little longer, so I’ve recently tried this brand.  Ripple milk is made from yellow peas and doesn’t taste much different than almond.  I found it at the Super Target by my house.

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Place your oats in a large glass bowl with a lid.  Stir in all ingredients and fill the bowl with liquid enough to cover the mixture by about half an inch.

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Cover and place the bowl in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, stir to combine any remaining liquid that may have settled on the top.  Store leftovers in the fridge for up to a week.

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Sprouted Beans and More from AZVFF

I’ve recently been reading at length about raw vegan diets. As you know, I aim to consume 60-70% raw plant foods daily, but I recently upped that amount to 90% in my one-week raw food challenge. I generally feel better than I ever did when eating a traditional American omnivorous diet, but during the challenge, I felt even more energized and satisfied with my appearance.

As a result of my piqued interest in raw eating, I went to this year’s Arizona Vegetarian Food Festival looking to learn more about the lifestyle. While I don’t believe I have the willpower—or interest, for that matter—to go completely raw, I’d like to try and consume even more raw plant foods. Uncooked food is easier on the body; there’s no disputing science.

Again, not looking to go 100%…just interested in living better, which I believe all of us can do, no matter what our lifestyle or food preferences. While at the AZVFF, I made a beeline straight for a booth advertising raw, sprouted hummus. I love beans, but they are inedible raw (or so I thought), so I had to see this for myself.

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When I think of “sprouts,” I imagine tiny green sprigs with delicate little leaves, grown from whole grains or seeds. Sprouts are delicious and make for an aesthetically pleasing addition to salads and raw veggie wraps. Sprouted beans? I couldn’t wrap my head around it…

Turns out, in the raw vegan world, “sprouted” can also refer to a plant food that has ballooned in size as a result of extensive soaking in water. This allows an item like a dried bean to take on a cooked consistency, while still being technically raw. The soaked bean is never boiled, sautéed, roasted, or otherwise nuked with heat and is palatable enough to make into a salad sandwich or blend into a creamy hummus. The nutrition nerd that I am, my mind was blown. 🙂 Why didn’t I think of this before?! I’ve always soaked dried beans and then boiled them, or purchased them already cooked in a can.

This learning led me to look into sprouting other seemingly inedible raw foods to avoid the cooking process. A vegan writer that I love operates a blog called Oh She Glows. She soaks rolled oats overnight—recipe is aptly titled “Vegan Overnight Oats”—and they are ready to consume for breakfast the next morning with no cooking required.

I am now working on revising some of my formulas to incorporate sprouted beans, lentils, or grains where I think they would work just as well as cooked – stay tuned!

Below, enjoy other sights from the 2016 AZVFF. 🙂

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Baby Oliver’s first time at the fest (with Daddy).

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My sister, Petra (in town from Tokyo), with Nolan. A gloomy day, but a pretty park.

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Last year’s vegan pretzel truck made a return!

Tried some vegan eats from a new place – delicious!

Easy Homemade Granola

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I love granola! It’s versatile, filling, and when made properly, very nutritious. Today, I’m going to walk you through my homemade granola formula that is low in sugar, fat, and sodium, and free from high fructose corn syrup and preservatives found in many packaged varieties.

The staple ingredient of granola is rolled oats. Oats are among the first foods a baby can eat and I figure, if they’re safe for a six-month-old who’s trying food for the first time, they’ve gotta be some really good-for-you stuff. Oats contain more dietary fiber than any other grain and even have cholesterol-lowering properties. Given my history with battling hereditary high cholesterol, I’ve always been in when it comes to this super food.

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Of all of the different types of oats out there, granola comes together best with rolled. Rolled oats are whole grain oats that have been steamed and pressed. They retain more texture in many kitchen applications than instant oats and cook faster than steel-cut oats (which I also love). I buy them in bulk and always have some in my pantry for a quick oatmeal.

In today’s granola, I’m also using raw sunflower seeds. Their flavor is mild and texture crunchy, but easy to chew; Nolan will eat a whole pile of them as is. Sunflower seeds are rich in Vitamins E and B-1 and copper, which benefits skin and hair. In addition, if you’ve got a nut allergy, you can buy sunflower butter as an alternative to peanut, almond, or cashew.

DSC_1957Before you get into making this breakfast formula, you should know that on its own, it is not very sweet. The low sugar content doesn’t bother me one bit since I never eat my granola without fresh fruit on top or with togurt, but you could always add more dried fruit if you want to take the sweetness up a notch. With very little exposure to sweets in his young life, Nolan is perfectly content eating this granola with just plant milk.

A couple more notes… If you don’t have all of these seeds on hand, no worries; you can make the granola without, it just won’t be as nutrient-packed. And finally, whenever possible, make your own juice to avoid preservatives and added sugar.  Enjoy!

DSC_1961FORMULA BASE: GRANOLA

Serves 6

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried fruit*, raw nuts, and/or raw seeds –> I’m using a combination of sunflower seeds, dried cherries, dried cranberries, almonds, and pecans.
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp hulled hemp seeds
  • 1 cup 100% fruit juice –> I’m using fresh-squeezed orange (2) and grapefruit (1/2).
  • 1 heaping tbsp nut butter –> I’m using peanut.
  • 2 tbsp sweetener –> I’m using agave syrup.
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Oil enough to grease a cookie sheet or baking dish –> I’m using coconut oil to grease a 9 x 13 glass baking dish as it is easier to stir the granola.

*Whenever possible, if you do not dehydrate your own fruit, look for dried fruit that contains little to no added oil or sugar. Also avoid dried fruit that contains sulfur dioxide, as it is not allergy-friendly. See my trail mix post for more info.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Combine juice, nut butter, sweetener, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it begins to bubble, turn the heat down to low and let thicken for about 15 minutes.

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While what I call “the sticky” simmers, finely chop your dried fruit/seeds/nuts, if necessary, and combine with the oats and seeds in a large bowl. When the sticky is ready, slowly incorporate it into the oat mixture as you stir. Spread evenly on a lightly greased cookie sheet or in a lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake for 30-35 minutes – or until granola is crunchy and golden brown – turning every ten minutes or so. Let cool completely and store in a tightly sealed container in the pantry.

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Want to make granola bars? Try doubling “the sticky” and spread the complete mixture onto parchment paper. Bake at least 20 minutes, or until golden brown.